As world traveler who has visited countless bookstores all over the world, I thought I had seen it all. Then, I realized how wrong I was when I walked up to Powell’s on Burnside Street in Portland, OR. I knew this place was the largest new/used bookstore in the world, but I had no idea just how big. They don’t call it a “city of books” for nothing!
I literally froze in the middle of the lobby when I first walked in. My eyes didn’t know where to look first and my mouth was hanging open as if an alien mothership had just landed. Table after table of books followed by walls (floor to ceiling) of books, and then doorways that lead to shelf after shelf of more books. They should put a sign on the door that says, “Caution: Drooling May Occur.”
Realizing this was no ordinary bookshop, I went straight to the information desk and picked up a map. This was not a place where I could wander aimlessly and not get lost! To my shock, the map unfolded like a roadmap: Three floors cover a city block and contain color coded rooms that are further organized by genre specific stacks. There’s a coffee shop, too!
It actually took two trips to wander through the entire store. The first time through, I went from room to room, floor to floor, just get a sense of the place and stand in awe of such a giant collection of books. The second time through, I went with a list of books I hoped to find.
First, I hoped to find some new haiku books. The well has run dry at my local bookstores and on amazon, so I hoped Powell’s would have something I haven’t read. Not only did I find haiku books, but I think I witnessed the largest poetry section I’ve ever seen in a bookstore. I ended up buying three haiku books out of the 20 or so they had available, (including original printings of R.H. Blyth’s four volume interpretation of haiku – Wow!).
Second, I dared myself to believe I could find the Fates series by Lanie Bross. My local bookstore no longer had it and amazon wanted too much for it. I wandered into the YA section and was again blown away by the sheer size of it. After scanning through two aisles, I actually found what I was looking for along with a bonus. Fates and it’s sequel Chaos, were sitting on the shelf together like they were waiting for me. I hugged them as I walked through the rest of the store.
As a writer of YA fiction, the scope of Powell’s YA section left me feeling so giddy – so many teens were wandering through the aisles with books in their hands! And look what was lingering near the YA entrance . . .
How’s that for some motivation!
Two trips and five books later, I am convinced that if Powell’s doesn’t have a book, it doesn’t exist. I’m still drooling over this place and still hugging the books that have become my Powell’s souvenirs.
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What’s your favorite thing this week?
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